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Yosvany Terry


Los Terry

"Los Terry are a family of musicians from the Camaguey province of Cuba. Their unique blend of musical styles includes elements of folklore, classic charanga and modern jazz, creating a bridge across generations. The title From Africa to Camague reflects the deep African influences in the music and the culture of Camaguey. Eladio Terry, the patriarch of the family, known to many as Don Pancho, grew up surrounded by the music of the Afro-Cuban religions and learned the traditional drumming and vocal styles that date back centuries. Eladio followed the path of the apprentice drummer as he learned the prayers, songs and rhythms that accompany the religious ceremonies- watching, listening and playing for hours. Like many Cuban musicians, he also learned to play popular music styles, incorporating his knowledge of African traditions into the secular dance music of the day. 

Eladio Terry's influence in Cuban music began with thelegendary charanga group Maravillas de Florida, from the town of Florida in Camaguey. He utilized the chekere with the traditional charanga format of violins, bass timbales, flute, piano, and guïro, adding an instrument widely used in the syncretized African religions that have survived and flourished in Cuba. The chekere is an instrument made out of a gourd strung with beads that requires a sophisticated physical dexterity to produce rhythms and harmonic timbres. Eladio Terry and his sons handle the chekere like veteran basketball players taunting their opponents as they effortlessly coax rhythms and tones out of these hollow gourds.

In the early 1960s Eladio went to the newly formed Conservatory of Music in Havana. There he met fellow music students from Mali who became legendary figures in contemporary African music when they formed Maravillas du Mali and wrote the theme song for Radio Mali in a Cuban charanga style. Eladio recalls that they had assimilated much of the Cuban rhythms but could not understand the role of the bass. He claims credit for teaching them the subtleties of the tumbao or "swing" of the bass that can't easily be notated or understood without grasping the fundamental structure of Cuban music. Traveling with the Maravillas de Florida in the 1970s Eladio visited many African countries as well as Eastern Europe and the Middle East. As director, violinist and arranger he was able to incorporate many of the musical influences of his travels into his music. The recordings of the Maravillas from this period are spiced with African-based rhythms, harmonies and timbres that he introduced, giving the charanga a very Afro-Cuban feel. Yosvany recalls that when the Maravillas played Son Wambari at outdoor dances people in the audience were seized by trances when they heard the Yoruba chants and the familiar incantations calling out to Elegua.When the Maravillas toured Africa they found that many people understood the meaning of the words to the Yoruba and Congo chants that they sang which are part of religious rituals in Cuba.

Cuba's nationwide musical education program has had a profound effect on the development of countless talented musicians. Cuba has always had a wealth of musical talent but few of the youth from poor families had the resources to receive the formal training and practice time that would allow them to master forms of music other than those with which they had direct experience. Eladio Terry's sons, Yosvany, Yoel and Yunior have all passed through intense musical conservatory training as well as paying their dues in popular music groups and have sharpened their skills playing improvisational jazz.

Camaguey has recently produced a crop of young jazz musicians who have changed the view that only Havaneros have the chops to play jazz. Yoel, Yosvany and Yunior have all played with a wide range of groups in Havana and are top calls on their instruments for recording and gigs. Yosvany played with Silvio Rodriguez's group Diakara, blazing a new path in the fusion of the Nueva Trova and Afro-Cuban jazz. He has recorded with Roy Hargrove and Jane Bunnett as well as the acclaimed Cubanismo recording with Jesus Alemañy. Recently he has been working with Steve Coleman and an innovative jazz workshop in Oakland and teaching at the prestigious Stanford Jazz Workshop. Listeners will no doubt hear more from this 25 year old saxophonist and arranger in years to come.

Yunior, the youngest son, is an accomplished bassist as well as violnist in the Cuban National Symphony Orchestra. Yoel, the eldest brother, records and plays with several groups including Grupo Perspectiva, the group formed by jazz trumpeter Arturo Sandoval before he came to the United States. These young musicians are also a vital part of many young jazz groups that are pushing the boundaries of Cuban music.

Besides the family members we are blessed with the participation of pianist Ivan "Melón" Gonzalez. When he came to the session as Yosvany's substitute we looked at him skeptically because of his youth and the Chicago Bulls tee shirt and backwards baseball cap he was wearing- that didn't seem to fit the image of the serious jazz pianist. After eating a huge lunch, he astounded us with his virtuosity and his ability to switch from one style to another and adapt to the complicated arrangements with such ease. Melón is currently the pianist in Cuban salsa singer Isaac Delgado's band and a member of several jazz combos in Cuba.

The Terry family combines the dynamic energy of the new Cuban jazz movement with the musical traditions that have survived and evolved over centuries. Eladio Terry has long been an innovator in Cuban music, adding new elements of Cuban folklore and culture into the music and constantly evolving while searching out new possibilities. His sons have followed him on this path. The composition Los Orishas is an allegorical reference to the chants and prayers of the Santería ceremonies and rituals. This piece recalls the work of Bola de Nieve, the great Cuban pianist who mixed elements of the Afro-Cuban musical traditions with jazz piano and a unique gravely voice. Voy Buscando Mi Destino brings together the existential searching of the Nueva Trova movement with the chants of the Yoruba religion in an exciting blend that highlights Yosvany's soprano saxophone.

Actitud Ante el Trabajo is a a song about positive work attitude-a concept with a different meaning in a socialist society. The swinging charanga format almost mocks the lyric's call to love your job and never be late. On the other hand, QueTieneEsaCintura is a tribute to the swinging hips of Cuban women and the sensuality of Cuban dance. This was a monster hit for the Maravillas in the 1970s and is updated here with Yosvany's swinging arrangement.

The voice of the legendary Laito graces this recording with the mellow tones that embody the soul of the charanga. He sang for years with the Maravillas and currently sings with several top charanga orchestras in Havana. Percussion master and babalao Octavio Rodriguez joined us as musical adviser, policing the rhythm section to maintain the integrity of the clave and adding bata and clave to many songs. Young, multi-talented percussionist Dafnis Prieto, who has toured Europe and plays with many jazz groups, contributed greatly, as did John Santos, who patiently played additional percussion including timbales and bongos, adding the missing pieces to this rapidly recorded project. His expertise and dedication to Cuban music made it possible for us to fill in the gaps without losing the feel of the original sessions."

-- from RoundWorld Music,, 2007

Guïro, Chekere, Lead Vocals:
Eladio Terry Gonzalez
Bass: Yunior Terry Cabrera
Flute: Yoel Terry Cabrera
Sax and Keyboards: Yosvany Terry Cabrera
Background Vocals: Lydia Cabrera Leon
Piano: Ivan "Melón" Gonzalez
Congas: Dafnis Prieto Rodriguez
Timbales, bongos and percussion: John Santos
Lead Vocals: José Hernández Boza "Laito"
Lead Vocals: Andrés Román Sánchez
Background Vocals: Arlin González, Luisito, Laito, Andrés Román Sánchez
Guitar on "Voy Buscando Mi Destino": Pablo Menendez
Bata,clave & guataca: Octavio Rodriguez Rivero
Arrangements by Yosvany Terry Cabrera
Produced & recorded by Greg Landau
Additional recording by Victor Mila and Denis
Mixed by Dave Nelson at the Outpost Studios in San Francisco with John Santos and Greg
Executive Producer: Robert Leaver
Art direction & graphic design: Anne Walzer
Photography: David Belda, Jeff Ceaser
Liner Notes: Greg Landau
Thanks to Octavio Rodriguez, Santica and family, Grupo Mezcla, Pablo Menendez and Adria
Santana, Waldo Gonzalez Cofre, Steve Heilig, Bellita and Miranda, Felicia, Rosa Iris and John

"From Africa to Camaguey is hard to define, which is perhaps what makes it so attractive.
Elements of Cuban folklore blend seamlessly with jazz in a way that is much less
pretentious...In fact, pretension is entirely lacking on the recording, sincerity practically oozes
from the jewel case. The result if a group that seamlessly integrates the old and the new, the
traditional and the contemporary. Their familial connection must translate into some type of
genetic-psychic connection that helps them work in perfect synchronicity... the piano work of
Ivan "Melon" Gonzales is outstanding." - Jacob Edgar, The Beat

"What a find! Just when you thought you'd heard everything from the culturally embargoed
island nation, this talented family from the African rich region of Camaguey surfaces with an
amazing debut. Through nine sumptuous tracks we meet Yunior (bass), Yoel (flute), Yosvany
(reeds), and their father Eladio (vocals/chekere) for a stunning mix of folkore, jazz, and popular
dance idioms. All the arrangements were done by Yosvany, who many of you may recall from
Cubanismo. The other talent to be reckoned with here is pianist Ivan "Melon" Gonazlez, who
has a style that compliments harmonically with jazz-filled colors and can stimulate you with
inspiring solos as well." - Jesse Varela, Latin Beat

"This is a very well done recording combining elements of folklore, charanga and jazz. I like it a
lot." Bruce Polin, Descarga Newsletter


losterry.gif (36857 bytes) From Africa to Camaguey

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